Monday, September 22, 2008

NY Yankees and our Sunday of love

Yankee Stadium has had its celebratory final game. ESPN interviewed a bunch of current and former players and had some sort of attempt at a "red carpet" to catch all the celebs.
Why, pray tell (I'm using 'prithee' later) do we care? We care because we live and breathe for the Yankees. BigD grew up in those parts. His grandparents raised their large Italian family in the Bronx. All of those brothers, their sons and grandsons and on down the line are Yankee fans. That is not an option. Yankees. Forever.
Our sons have followed the tradition. Our Young Son was a Yankee for at least 5 Halloweens. Paul O'Neill to be exact. As he is our fourth child, we have no pictures of it, but he remembers it vividly. He would still have the tee-shirt (child's size M) but The Sophisticate lost it.
BigD has lots of stories about going to Yankee stadium. He never tells us those stories, but they exist. Now his travel schedule lands him in NYC and in Yankee stadium, randomly, several times a season. RANDOMLY this past week, during the LAST WEEK of games at old Yankee Stadium. Completely accidental and random.

During all the pregame and postgame hoopla about Yankee Stadium, they showed some black and white clips from the '50s and '60s, and I had a weird sensation of being thrown back in time. I was a Yankee fan before BigD came along. I learned it from my Granny.

Granny was reared in a little town in the south. She went away to college in Virginia, married a glamorous pilot after the war (World War I), and they lived in New York for much of her married life. She was widowed in her mid-forties, so she moved home to her little town in the south. She also started smoking. Actually, I think she was ALREADY smoking, but just started smoking in public when she returned from New York emboldened. And, even without a husband or sons living with her, she was a Yank-eh fan. A college educated, widowed, smoking fan of the NY Yanks. She came a long way, baby, before the rest of us did. She drank Tab during the daytime, sherry with her friends in the afternoon, and a Tom Collins when my father was pouring.
Granny loved her 'Yank-ehs' In those days, we saw baseball once a week on Saturday afternoon, assuming that the Yank-ehs were playing. Granny left the lights off in her living room all day long, because it was hot. She also had a very luxurious couch with down cushions. And a candy dish full of bridge mix. SO... I laid on the down couch, ate bridge mix and read books which we had brought home from the library. She watched the Yank-ehs. It was cool, and dark and quiet. Also, smoky, but I was used to it.
I spent many summer Saturdays in the shady living room, lying on the down couch reading and eating chocolate covered raisins which I had picked out of the bridge mix. Granny, Eve cigarette in hand, sat in her magenta chair, silvery blond hair wreathed in smoke, watching the Yankees on the black and white TV. She called her boys by name - I just remember Mickey and Whitey. She would bring home as many books and as much candy as it took to keep me quiet since she would be watching the ball game. As a mother, I appreciate how much she respected my elementary aged self by not expecting me to be entertained by baseball on television.

BigD and our sons are more assertive about Yankee fandom. We have the cable-tv add-on that lets us see 947,342 baseball games a season. We either watch the Yankees, or watch some other team to see how it relates to the Yankees. We also hate Boston, so we watch them a lot, hoping to see them lose.
BigD sits at our Young Son's football games with his Blackberry in hand following the Yankees. Our sons get text message updates on the Yankees. This summer, while the Yankees were making my guys miserable, I read the whole Twilight saga. They come and get me when Andy Pettitte pitches. "Mom, come watch your boy."
How, prithee (told you) did Andy Pettitte get to be "my boy"? Seriously? Look at him! OK, back to the real the early years, BigD and I took our babes (there were only 2) and made an annual pilgrimage to New Jersey to visit the fam. We always went to the city (but never to Yankee Stadium). Amazingly, there were on street corners, big buses emblazoned, " Blessed Heart of Jesus Holy Baptist Church" or "Big Sandy Methodist Church - Jesus' heart is as big as Texas" or something equally un-New Yorky. Near the buses were earnest southern teenagers, in tee-shirts, passing out fliers that said things like "Jesus will Save the Heathens of New York." or "Let Jesus In to Heal New York -the New Sodom and Gomorrah." Or something equally subtle.
Problem #1, is that no one in NYC can understand you if you have even a moderate southern accent. Trust me, it was there that BigD first stepped up to make some necessary purchases...because no one in the bodega could understand me. Perhaps Farsi, but not Southern. Problem #2, everyone in NYC wears black, so the neon tee-shirts with the blood-dripping thorn of crowns on the back...not so effective.

Anyway, there is no city in the world that couldn't stand a dose of God. NYC seems particularly secular and evil-ish to those of us from the Bible belt. But I could not comprehend how a bunch of teenagers in neon yellow tees and jean shorts were making a dent with the crazed people who wash windshields and then bang on the window until you pay. Or any other New York people. I mean, it's just not like it is here - there is not a fish decal on every car, no "God is my co-pilot" license plates, no billboards with scripture and an invitation to dinner at Wednesday night church followed by a passion play. So, what was God going to do about New York?
One thing he did was send Andy Pettitte. I mean, seriously? Look at him! A fine specimen of a Christian, in my opinion.
My second personal most memorable Yankee moment was some really important game - certainly a play-off game, and maybe a World Series game. If I would go and wake up our sons, they would tell me exactly which game, the score, the stats - all of it. Pettitte pitched well, they were leading, and the relief pitcher was in. Things were tense, and they kept showing Pettitte in the dugout, with a towel over his head, which was bowed. The announcers were all crowing about how nervous he was, and how he couldn't bear to watch. They said that he was hiding under the towel.

I knew EXACTLY what he was doing, he was praying. And I said that to our boys, who were watching. And they said "No, you crazy woman, he's sweating." So, game over, Yankees win. Hooray for all.
Postgame interview is Andy Pettitte himself.
TV guy: "So, Andy, was it just too nerve-wracking to watch? Were you afraid he was going to lose it for you there at the end?"
Andy Pettitte, southern accent and all, stood up tall and laughed out loud, towel in hand. "Oh, no. I wasn't nervous. I was just praying. A bunch of us get together and read the Bible and pray together. I was just..."
TV guy interrupts, "But Andy, you were bound to be fearing the worst. You didn't even take the towel off your head until after the game. Possibly losing this big game after your great pitching! What did that feel like?"
Pettitte: "Aw, naw, I was just praying for him. I wanted him to know how much confidence we had in him. I was praying for him."

So, God sent missionaries to New York City indeed. They wear pinstripes, not neon tees. Who better to speak to New Yorkers than Yankees? Also, who better to speak to my sons? Win - Win - Win!

And - after all the day-long woo-hah, my guys informed me that IF...somebody loses this many games, and somebody else beats Boston, and the Yankees win this many more games....IF all that happens, we did NOT just see the last game in old Yankee Stadium.

Let the praying begin. eta: Let the praying begin for NEXT season the NEW Yankee Stadium.


Kathryn said...

Oh, but it is sad. The end of an era. That place is so legandary. I relate it to what I would feel like if there would no longer be a Lambeau Field.
*sniff, sniff*

Candice said...

I hope you don't mind me linking to you from cjane. I am trying to spread the word about a Nie project I am starting, check it out at or on her benefit blog. Thank you! Candice

Anonymous said...

Go Yankees! Check out my blog, I have an award over there for you!

Liz said...

This made me SO sad.